The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms has reversed course on a controversial proposal to rework regulations of so-called armor-piercing ammunition in such a way that would have banned the manufacture of a popular type of ammo for the popular AR15 hunting rifle. After an outcry 80,000 public comments strong, the ATF has said… our bad, we won’t do that right this second.
— ATF HQ (@ATFHQ) March 10, 2015
If I had to bet on just one conspiracy theory about the Obama White House, it might be the seemingly outlandish idea that he actually works for the gun industry and gets a cut of every AR15 and box of ammo they sell because there can be no other reason they do so many things calculated to sell more AR15s and accompanying ammo than have ever been sold in the history of mankind.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he is “pleased that the Obama administration has abandoned its attack on the Second Amendment.”
“It is entirely inappropriate for President Obama to stretch his regulatory authority to implement partisan policies that Congress has refused to enact. Such an abuse of power would impact many law-abiding gun owners and restrict the American people’s ability to legally and responsibly exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Goodlatte said in a statement.
Gun advocates feared the proposal would open the floodgates to new ammunition bans, with far-reaching implications for gun owners.
While the bullets under consideration have traditionally been used by hunters and sportsmen in AR-15 rifles, the ATF had argued the ammunition can now be used in certain handguns, giving criminals easier access.
Even though the ATF currently claims that the round was always covered under the 1986 law defining armor-piercing ammunition and that the agency only temporarily exempted it from regulation and prohibition, that is also false. ATF never had that authority. It was the clear language of the statute, not the ATF’s good graces, that excluded M885 ammo from its definition.
The ATF didn’t have the authority then, and the Obama administration doesn’t have the authority now, to ban this ammunition. It is a lawless power grab that should be treated as such by each court that is given an opportunity to review it.
The nonsense of the legal theory of the ATF — that a round that can be used in a handgun counts as “armor-piercing” and is therefore subject to prohibition — is especially problematic when you note that it can be extended to nearly ever single type of firearm ammunition on the market. Know what other types of popular ammunition can be fired in a handgun? 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP. The list goes on and on.
Still, governments are governments, and the agency’s language seems to leave the question cracked open a touch:
“Accordingly, ATF will not at this time seek to issue a final framework. After the close of the comment period, ATF will process the comments received, further evaluate the issues raised therein, and provide additional open and transparent process (for example, through additional proposals and opportunities for comment) before proceeding with any framework.”
Katie Pavlich noted earlier this week that the proposal, and the removal of this particular cartridge from exemptions, showed up in the online version of the 2014 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Regulation Guide, published in January:
ATF called it a publishing error:
— ATF HQ (@ATFHQ) March 7, 2015
Uh-huh. Now, both the publishing error and error in judgment have been corrected.